cover image My Favorite Things

My Favorite Things

Maira Kalman. Harper Design, $35 (160p) ISBN 978-0-06-212297-1

Artist Kalman’s (Girls Standing on Lawns) latest monograph explores the relationship between objects and memory. The volume coincides with an exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt curated by illustrator, for which she selected her favorite items from the design museum’s vast archive. Kalman reproduces some of the objects and reimagines others in impressionist-style paintings; they range from a medieval Egyptian tapestry to Abraham Lincoln’s pocket watch and funeral pall. There are also everyday ephemera: a pair of stockings from the late 19th century, pictures of ladies’ footwear from a book published in 1885, and a simple lamp shade. Kalman’s incorporates quirky commentary into her illustrations, recreating the museum-going experience for readers from inside her own unusual mind. Often the commentary leads into personal memories: Kalman touches poetically on family lore from Belarus and reminisces on growing up in Tel Aviv with a mother so beautiful that “if Tolstoy had been alive, he would have loved her madly.” Along with pieces from the museum, Kalman includes objects from her personal archives, such as postcards from the Hotel Celeste in Tunisia and “pants of famous dead conductors” (more precisely, one pair of Toscanini’s pants that she won at an auction in 2013). Fans of Kalman’s charming signature style will find more of the same to appreciate, and while the book is meant to accompany the exhibit at Cooper Hewitt, it is plenty enjoyable outside of that context. Agent: Charlotte Sheedy, Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. (Oct.)[em] [/em]